Meditation and contemplation are two major expressions of prayers that can be used in everyday life. The Church defined Meditation and Contemplation in CCCC 570 and 571 respectively. The following verses in the Bible highlight the need and effects of Meditation and Contemplation. Rev. 8:1 refers to half an hour of silence in heaven; Be still and know that I am your God (Ps 46:10) and Fear not, be still in the presence of God, then God will fight for you (Ex.14:14). Jesus was transfigured on mount Tabor while he was in meditation and contemplation (Mt. 17: 1-13). St. Paul shared his experience, while he was in this world, as though he was in paradise and third level of heaven (through Meditation and Contemplation), with body or without body he was unsure though (2 Cor 12:1-4). Let me try to introduce a simple form of Meditation and Contemplation which is suitable to our busy schedule. The classical form of Meditation and Contemplation is described in the Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila. But her castles are understood only by those who have attained a particular level of spiritual maturity and have known and analysed their own trajectory in the spiritual realm. So, I try to introduce a simple form of Mediation and Contemplation through nine circles or nine abodes around you. The inner most circle is known as the Divine Mercy Castle. Therefore, this method is known as Divine Mercy Castle Meditation and Contemplation (DMCMC).
This can be practiced by anyone – young or old; literate or illiterate; strong or weak. The gains of meditation are aplenty as St. Teresa of Avila elaborates in her The Interior Castle or The Mansions.
Meditation is one of the important forms of prayer engaging thought, imagination, emotion and desire to deepen one’s faith, convert the heart and fortify the will to follow Christ (CCCC 570). This meditation eventually leads to contemplation (CCCC 571) – moments of pure faith and powerful action of the Holy Spirit.
The Interior Castle or The Mansions
She has described profoundly the soul and the various stages of its growth in the realm of the supernatural. She refers to it as the Mansions or the Interior Castle. But the uninitiated might not make much of it.
She describes the First Mansion as the state of the human soul – the beauty, dignity and its capabilities. Prayer is the entrance to the mansion. The Second Mansion she relates as the war by the devil upon the soul that it be hindered and demotivated in the climb of spiritual perfection through temptations and earthly pleasures. The Third Castle she pictures as the fear of God and details in reasons for experiences of aridity or difficulties in prayers. Practice of virtues and humility is at the base of this Castle without the practice of which the fight into the upper realms cannot be sustained.
With the Fourth Interior Castle the soul begins its flight by receiving divine consolations and so being propelled to the contemplative prayer of the quiet where it is just a loving gaze at the Lord and the soul is thrilled to be in the presence of the Lord and never tires. As a matter of fact, inability to sit in the presence of God would only make restless the soul - such being the intensity of the desire for the Lord.
And the soul derives effects of devotion and divine consolation at the physical and soul level. The soul is elated as it is in the realm of grace in the Fifth Mansion with increase in fervour as well as detachment from distractions. St. Teresa explains the beginnings of a marriage with Christ in the Sixth Mansion. She also talks of wounds of Divine Love of trials caused by others, devil and one’s own fears and aridity as well as human weaknesses. The soul is indifferent to blame or praise at this stage and it embarks into higher echelons with culmination in a spiritual marriage, entry into the chambers of God’s presence and the aftermaths of the Spiritual marriage in the seventh and final interior castle.
But the DMCMC meditation is a lot easier and anyone can grow in levels of meditation and contemplation thereafter. There are 9 circles or abodes in DMCMC. Jesus mentions about many dwelling places in his father’s house (Jn. 14:2). Through DMCMC, we can be in our father’s house where each one will have a separate dwelling. CCC 736 indicates that through the Holy Spirit even while we are in this world we can be in paradise or the heavenly abode. The first and inner-most circle, is known as the Divine Mercy Castle in which you are being pampered by the presence of Jesus in front of you. Jesus the Good Shepherd stands and satisfies you with his very presence. Jesus is also the Lion of Judah who teaches you to be strong, brave and fearless in ruling the world for the glory of Christ – in service and in love. Your soul is engulfed by the presence of Merciful God the Father from behind - being embraced by the heavenly father. His immense love for you that He created you and brought you thus far! The Holy Spirit hovers over you like a golden dove, empowering you, comforting you and advocating for you and providing nine charisms, nine/ twelve fruits and seven gifts; Mother Mary holds your right hand and covers you with her mantle of love, affection and protection and St. Joseph on the left leads you to Christ. The Guardian Angel is over your right shoulder to help you, committed by God’s love for you, to govern and guide you (Prayer of St John Paul II, General Audience, 20th August, 1986). Thus, you are sitting in the presence of Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, Mother Mary, St. Joseph and Guardian Angel. This inner circle is known as the Divine Mercy Castle. Whatever you ask Jesus, he will do it for you and others. All these prayers will be answered. Please enjoy the fatherly love of God (CCC 370), brotherly love of Jesus and maternal care of Mary, paternal care of St. Joseph and guidance of the Guardian angel.
The Roman Breviary advises (having taken insights from the sermons of St. Bernard the Abbot) not to dare do anything in the guardian angel’s presence that you would not dare do in God’s presence. And CCC 328 credits the existence of ‘angels’ as a truth of faith as Scripture and Tradition are clear and unanimous about their existence and work.
Then comes the Second Circle, where the 12 Apostles enwrap you. They were selected and sent on a mission by the Lord Jesus to spread the ‘Good News’ – the ‘evangelion’ for the news to reach your ears now, around 2000 years after Christ. They responded to the mission at the cost of their lives and are now interceding for you that you spread the Word. Now as a result the Church is Apostolic.
The Third circle is that of the Seven Archangels. They are all interceding for you and helping you unceasingly. You are benefitted through their services. Who are the seven Archangels? There are seven archangels in the ancient history of the Judeo-Christian bible as well as the Christian Tradition. Michael and Gabriel are the only two named in the Canonical Bible and Raphael is named in the Deuterocanonical book of Tobit of the Bible with the others removed in the 4th century when the books of the Bible were configured at the Council of Rome (382 C.E). The apocryphal Qumran text called “The Book of Enoch” lists out the other 4 names as Uriel, Raguel, Zerachiel and Remiel. Each of them has a specific assignment as per the Tradition of the Church.
The Archangel Michael is the first and most important. He is the patron of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He is the General of the army of angels and an advocate for the people of God.
Archangel Gabriel is the harbinger of messages and is the patron of the Sacrament of Baptism. He is the archangel of wisdom, revelation, prophecy and visions.
Archangel Raphael is the patron of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and is designated for healing. Archangel Uriel is the patron of the Sacrament of Confirmation and the one for repentance and the damned.
Archangel Raguel is the patron of the Sacrament of Holy Orders with a watch over justice and fairness in the Church.
Archangel Zerachiel is the patron of the Sacrament of Matrimony and was traditionally regarded as the Archangel of God’s judgment.
Archangel Remiel is the Archangel of hope and faith as well as the Patron of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
The fourth circle is that of the nine choir of angels who are most involved with the doings of mankind. Guardian angels are chosen from among them and they warn you of impending evil and inspire you to remain faithful to God in prayers. So, they join the other heavenly beings in praying for you who is seated at the core of the Divine Mercy Castle.
The fifth circle is the Martyrs of the Church. They are the ones who gave up their lives in the effort to be a witness to Christ and His gospel. They too encircle you with the zeal for Christ and are praying for the same graces for you.
The sixth circle is the abode of saints. They are all around you praying for holiness of your life. They also pray for you for the same Charisms, gifts and fruits that they enjoyed in their lifetimes. And each saint is a patron of a particular aspect of life and they intercede for that aspect to bear fruit in you. They are very powerful in their intercession.
The seventh circle is pilgrim Church and Church in transition (purgatory) as written in CCC 962. This heavenly community members are in relation with you – your family members (alive and dead) and all believers in God especially disciples of Jesus. They are in need of your prayers. Please intercede for their needs. You are assisted by the heavenly circles. Therefore, your prayers for them are very powerful. They will be healed, transformed, renewed, saved and they will become holier and holier every day.
The eighth circle is the world of humans who do not necessarily believe in God. They are also blessed by your prayers and presence in the Divine Mercy Castle. They all receive help because you are born as one among them and you have chosen to consecrate your life to the ocean of Divine Mercy. Please pray for them that they too be in the circle of believers and become children of God.
And the ninth circle is that of the Cosmos in which all animals as well as all living beings, planets and the entire galaxy or the whole of creation exist. The existing cosmos may be hurt and weeping, having borne the brunt of the cruelty of mankind. And as you have been born in history on the face of the earth – the earth also receives healing and prayers from heaven because of you and your right choices.
There is hell outside the ninth circle, with all demons and souls that opted for Satan. This place is called as Gehenna. All beings in this circle (demonic forces) may afflict you by their own choice or through witchcraft. But you will easily get victory over these negative spirits through the help of the first six abodes and your prayers. Thus, you are very safe and secure inside the Divine Mercy Castle.
The DMCMC is a source of blessing for the entire human race and the cosmos even and all meditating using this technique never grow old or weary and shall soar like an eagle with heaven being the limit (Is. 40:31) and can help the believers just as the Mansions of St. Teresa did. Please try to do DMCMC at least for 10 to 15 minutes daily or according to the availability of your time. DMCMC can be done while you are driving, cooking, shopping etc or doing your routine works. Therefore, you are able to pray unceasingly according to 1 Thes.5:16-18. These nine circles can be considered as nine heavenly abodes in Father’s house (Jn. 14:2). You will be automatically out of this Divine Mercy Castle, if you commit any serious sins. Then Jesus the good sphered will be in search of the erring sheep and bring you back to the Divine Mercy Castle.